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Meet the Trainer: Harry Normand

Spark Movement Studio, Level 1, 80 Denham Street, Townsville
Qualifications: Cert IV PT, C.H.E.K Institute Practitioner Level II, Remedial Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor
Years in the fitness industry: 15

“Some people are being driven mad because they don’t understand where their reoccurring pain is coming from and they’ve tried everybody and everything, but they’ve never been taught how to move correctly and undo all those layers that are driving the problem”

What did you do before you became a PT? I’m originally from Scotland, but I was living in South Africa working as an engineer in the mining industry and instructing and competing in taekwondo.

What attracted you to personal training? To be totally honest with you, I got into personal training because I thought it would be easy (laughs). I did a PT diploma in the UK and started working self-employed in 2003. Then I had my first client and very quickly realised it was not easy. I wanted to learn more about how to deal with injuries, as he was an older guy with a lot of physical issues, and I only knew how to smash him harder – I didn’t know how to take care of him. I realised easy money wouldn’t be satisfying and the engineer in me wanted to have a problem to solve as well.

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Proudest active achievement? I was the South African Heavyweight Taekwondo Champion in 1999 and coached-up a few kids to represent the SA national team.

What do you love about being a trainer? I want people to be able to say ‘yes’; so if someone phones asking you to do this cool thing, you can say ‘YES’ instead of worrying about your knee, or whatever else. That kind of worry makes people write-off the stuff they love to do, thinking they’re too old or broken, so it’s great to see people realise that once the pain is gone they can go back to dancing, skiing or whatever.

What’s your point of difference? I use exercise for ‘post-acute rehab’. A lot of my clients are in pain and they’ve often tried a lot of different solutions, but as great and effective as all those therapies are, they all involve people ‘doing stuff’ to you. Until you learn to change your own movement habits, it’s never going to be fixed completely. My aim is to teach people good movement habits so they understand movement and can do it themselves to stay out of pain.

“I want folk to leave here feeling stronger, but also walking taller and lighter and feeling freer”

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Tell us more about how you help with pain. Most of the pain I see is not from traumatic injury; it’s tension that has accumulated over the years. People have a pain and get it fixed, but then there are 14 other layers of old tension and compensation that are driving it that need to be addressed if they want lasting change. Some people are being driven mad because they don’t understand where their reoccurring pain is coming from and they’ve tried everybody and everything, but they’ve never been taught how to move correctly and undo all those layers that are driving the problem. So I just teach simple, natural movement skills that cut through those layers and make your movement smooth again.

“If you exercise with anything less than excellent technique it’s training your nervous system incorrectly and setting you up for injury”

Give us an example of a success story. One client, Shaun, came to me four years ago and he couldn’t walk properly, run, ride a bike or ski; but he just wanted to be able to ski again. It took us 12 months, but now – as well as being 30kg lighter – he skis three or four times a year, going to Japan or New Zealand. He also runs and rides his bike up Castle Hill – he does everything he wants to do with no worries. His reason for coming to the studio has changed from serious rehab and reconditioning to training for injury prevention while he does all his other activities.

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What are your key training philosophies? There are six key movement patterns to master, but it’s all about technique – moving better before you move harder and faster. I chose the name Spark because you’re sparking-up your nervous system to coordinate and control your body better, which takes a load off you, both mentally and physically.

What sort of equipment do you use? Free weights that allow functional movement. It’s basically functional movement training – teaching you how to move in a way that you might actually need to in real life.

Something that surprises clients? Sometimes people are a bit surprised by how much rest time I make them take between some exercises, but it’s in the rest periods that your adaptations happen. If you always just carry-on-and-on you never get to your potential because you’re exhausted and you never challenge the muscles in all the ways they need to be challenged.

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Tips for finding a good PT? Look for someone who continues to study movement, and someone who is connected with a network of professionals like physios, chiropractors and so on, so they can refer you out if necessary.

How do you want people to feel after a session? I want folk to leave here feeling stronger, but also walking taller and lighter and feeling freer. It’s not about smashing them up, it’s about moving well and that doesn’t have to exhaust you. But once you’re moving well and pain-free, we can just amp-up the exact same movements as far as you want to take it.

Anything else to add? From discipline comes freedom. If you exercise with anything less than excellent technique it’s training your nervous system incorrectly and setting you up for injury. If you really concentrate on technique first and build good movement habits, then your body has the integrity to do whatever you want to.

Find out more at: sparkmovementstudio.com.au/

Harry’s next four-week intro course starts on Saturday, January 10, 2015 from 6am-8am. There are four workshops and 12 coached studio sessions focused on teaching good movement skills for lasting pain relief. Find out more here: sparkmovementstudio.com.au/slider/introcourse/

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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